What was America like before Columbus arrived?

The Spiro Mounds archaeological site is located seven miles outside of Spiro, Oklahoma. Here, ancient people created a sophisticated culture that thrived from about AD 900-1450. As visitors walk along the trails in the 150-acre park, Dennis Peterson, Site Director, describes the mounds, the ceremonial features and relates its amazing history. He points out that Spiro artifacts have provided considerable insight into extensive trade networks, a highly developed religious center, a political system, and the entire Mississippian way of life.

The people of Spiro Mounds are believed to have been Caddoan speakers, like the modern Wichita, Kichai, Caddo, Pawnee, and Arikara. Spiro remained unoccupied from A.D. 1600 until 1832. While Choctaw and Choctaw Freedmen cleared the site for farming in the late 1800s, they did not allow any major disturbance of it until the Great Depression.


During the 1930s, excavations revealed one of the greatest collections of artistic and utilitarian prehistoric Native American artifacts in the United States. Early looting of the site lead to laws making Oklahoma one the first states in the U.S. to preserve and scientifically research archaeological sites.